Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rising and Falling

Certain drivers carried certain expectations with them before the season started. Now that we are thirteen rounds into the season, a picture is being painted of who is doing well and who has been off. Now we have to analyze the portrait. Upper tier drivers who aren't in danger of going anywhere didn't make my list. Ex: While Will Power is having a crap season, he is not in any sort of danger of going anywhere. Here is my opinion of whose stock is rising and whose stock is falling:

Rising

Marco Andretti
Before the season, did anyone acutally think Marco Andretti had a shot at the title? I didn't. But there he is, running P4 in the championship, with a multitude of solid runs this season. He is proving that he has what it takes to make a championship run.


Simon Pagenaud
After a solid first season with Sam Schmidt, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud has backed it up with an even better second season. He is currently in the top-five in points. He is one of the most consistent drivers in the field, doing well at just about every race this season. He also collected his first win at race two at Belle Isle. Simon is proving to be an elite driver.


Justin Wilson
Justin Wilson has got it going on. He is having another good season for Dale Coyne Racing, currently P9 in the points. He, like Simon Pagenaud, seems to be right up there at every race we go to. With a team that isn't a powerhouse, doing what he does is so very impressive. Make no mistake, Justin Wilson is a top-notch driver.


Charlie Kimball
The man who has been touted as the guy who doesn't belong at Ganassi is doing everything to prove his doubters wrong, and he is doing a mighty fine job at it. A great run at Barber and a podium at Pocono as well as many other solid runs puts Charlie in P11 in points, only one point behind Will Power. Yes, Will Power. That is impressive.


Kimball and Simon Pagenaud - Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix - Day 3
Kimball pacing Pagenaud at Belle Isle. Both drivers are having a great season (Photo: Chris Trotman)

Carlos Munoz
I will be very upset if young Carlos Munoz does not have a ride full time in Indycar next year. The current Firestone Indy Lights points leader has made two starts in Indycar this season. Qualifying P2 and finishing P2 in your very first race on the biggest stage is enough to get anyone's attention. Carlos did that. With his aggressive nature and utter fearlessness, many fans praised Munoz following this year's Indianapolis 500. When Ryan Briscoe broke his wrist in race one at Toronto, Panther called on Munoz to take his place. There's a reason for that. He is full of talent. With only 15 laps under his belt, Munoz took the green flag at the race, ran well, and brought the car home in one piece. If he can run well with only 15 laps to prepare on his first ever road course race in an Indycar, what can he accomplish with a full week's preparation?


Falling

Alex Tagliani
Poor Tags. Tagliani, who just made his 200th career start, is having a disastrous season. He has had two top-ten results. But in the thirteen races, he has also finished 24, 23, 21, 22, 23, and 24. The worst part is those six results listed were all in a row. In a 24-25 car field (minus Indy), finishing in the 20s for six straight races is absolutely terrible. Tagliani might want to start updating his resume unfortunately. One of the nicest guys around and a favorite to many fans, but the results have just not been there.


Sebastian Saavedra
Saavedra is having the worst season out of all of the fulltime drivers in the field. Seb, who replaced Katherine Legge in the offseason, has done nothing to merit a resigning for next year. With only one top-ten finish, nothing has gone right for the 23 year old Colombian. Saavedra ran fulltime with Conquest in 2011. That did not go well, so he decided to move back down to Indy Lights in 2012 to gain more experience. After a season in Lights, he moved back up to Indycar. But the experiment has apparently not done him any favors. What is next for the young man with many years in front of him?


Simona de Silvestro
Simona de Silvestro seemed to have a solid season going for her, scoring three top-tens in the first four races including a fantastic run at St. Petersburg. Since Indianapolis, her average finish as been 17th place. That's not good enough for someone who has high expectations bestowed upon her. Her teammate is constantly outpacing her. This teammate also won the Indianapolis 500. Can Simona salvage a dismal season in the final five races?


Tristan Vautier
The 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Champion is having a rough go at things in his rookie season in Indycar. Vautier's lone top-ten came at the second race at Barber. He had a great run going at St. Pete before mechanical failure ruined his result. But other than that, Vautier hasn't done much. I will give him the benefit of the doubt because he's a rookie, so I will hold out hope that, assuming Schmidt brings him back, he will have a better sophomore season.


Graham Rahal
I interviewed Graham in the offseason after he signed with his father at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He expected to have a great season. When asked on his expectations, he said "I have really high expectations. (Snip) The cars are quick and frankly, I'm ready to perform." The team and Graham have fallen well short of their expectations, having a very bad season. Two races stand out as a positive for Graham: Iowa and Long Beach, where he had great runs. But everywhere else, he has just seemed to have crap equipment. You can tell in his post race interviews just how frustrated he is. This poor season is hurting his value as a driver. Can he rebound and finish out the 2013 season on a high?

Alex Tagliani, Graham Rahal
Tagliani in front of Rahal at Long Beach (Photo: H.W. Chiu)

Six rounds to go. Who can make their stocks go up and who will sink heading into another silly season?! Let me know what you think.

-Matthew Hickey

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